Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Longing Is a Physical Hunger

Longing comes in the evening, rising from its hidden place.

The house I built in grief shelters me. It keeps me warm through the days and nights, and I am grateful. Yet I hunger for more. When grief first came, everything shut down. Windows were boarded up. Doors locked shut. The world went dark. My mind could not comprehend death or the dissolution of life. Emotions ran out of control. Senses were numb. My spirit lost its footing because every truth, law and belief crumbled away under the weight of death’s relentless pressure.

The body has its own wisdom.

In his book I-Thou, Martin Buber speaks of longing, of the desire for such closeness in a relationship that boundaries blur and cease to exist, and there is unity of body, mind and heart. He was speaking of the relationship between believer and the sacred Other, but this longing for closeness extends to our personal relationships — between spouses, between parent and child, and between close friends.

The house of grief’s longing is my body.

I often felt this closeness with Evelyn. Our life was like the slow tango where two people are so connected that they anticipate the other person’s next move. After she died, this closeness was taken away, and the pain of separation has been almost unbearable. Survivors feel dead to the world. Not knowing what to think. With every emotion on speed dial, our body collapses on itself. Tears drain us into an empty shell.

The house, my body, longs with grief.

The body is often the first to recover, perhaps because it has to eat and sleep in order to survive, even though rest is sporadic, and food tastes like paste. As the senses return, we begin to notice the warmth of the sun, and the spices in food. It takes the mind and spirit longer to come back. Friends came and their hugs rooted me back into humanity. Their presence and their voices. Hot tea. The taste of cranberry-orange scones.

The longing of grief’s body is my home.


  1. I get it, Mark, as you might imagine. My connection with nature was right off my porches at the birdfeeders and nesting boxes and on trails in the woods where I walked with my dog and felt grounded on this earth many times a day. My dog, more intimate in some ways that any person including family, helped me feel connected to life as a place to touch, watch, hear, sniff, and taste.

    1. That's beautiful, Elaine! Undoubtedly your dog was grieving, too, and yet still interested in the physical world, reminding you and leading you back into awareness of your own senses.